*National Judicial Network Webinar – Criminal Justice Responses to Asian Women Caught in the Cross-Hairs of Exploitation and Human Trafficking (January 11, 2022)

The New York State Human Trafficking Intervention Courts (HTIC) were established to address the needs of trafficking survivors and sex workers by providing a wide range of comprehensive services and targeted interventions as an alternative to incarceration.  In New York City alone, these courts have seen several thousands of women over the years, most of whom have been women and girls of color.  Among this population have been a very high percentage of undocumented immigrant Asian women, arrested for their work in illicit massage businesses (IMB). This presentation will explore how the extreme vulnerabilities of this immigrant population shape their experiences of coercion and exploitation and place them at high risk for labor and sex trafficking.  We will also discuss how this differs from our understanding of domestic trafficking among American women and girls.

The presenters, which include a judge, lawyer, and advocate/social service provider, will discuss the innovative collaborative model in the HTICs that sought to address the complex experiences of Asian trafficking survivors by providing culturally and linguistically appropriate services in response to their unique circumstances. They will discuss how awareness of the cultural values of this non-English speaking immigrant population impacts everything from courtroom interaction, client contact, case management, counseling, and immigration consultations.  The discussion will also address the history of misogyny and objectification of Asian women in the US, and how responding to the needs of this population fits into the larger framework of social justice and racial and gender equity in the courts. Finally, they will share some promising practices to deliver trauma-informed and culturally sensitive services to Asian women experiencing commercial sexual exploitation and/or human trafficking.

  • Hon. Toko SeritaPresiding Judge, Queens Human Trafficking Intervention Court, Chair, Statewide Judicial Committee on Human Trafficking
  • Yvonne Chen, Director of Private Sector Engagement, ECPAT-USA
  • Amy Hsieh, JD, MPA, Human Rights Attorney (Former Deputy Director, Anti-Trafficking Initiative at Sanctuary for Families)


Training Materials

This publication was developed under grant number SJI 21-T-047 from the State Justice Institute. The points of view expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the State Justice Institute.